Artemio Rodriguez, the printmaker, was born to a laborer and a housewife in the colonial town of Tacámbaro, Michoacán, México in 1972. He recalls a childhood shaped not only by modern Mexican and American cartoons, TV, movies and superheroes, but also by the rituals and oral traditions of rural Mexico. Uniquely situated astride two distinct climates, Tacámbaro was the social and economic center of the region, a place where cultures blended and many people crossed paths to exchange goods, gossip and ideas. As a printmaker, Rodríguez works primarily in black and white out of a feeling that this makes for the greatest visual impact while provoking the strongest stimulus of the viewer’s imagination. As a technician, his signature style emphasizes the simplicity of images and the clarity of lines. As a philosopher, Rodríguez combines the poetry of the ancient art of woodcutting with modern social criticism. His work is a testament to the persistent vigor of Mexico’s ancestral cultures and the mounting significance of the modern Latino art tradition. Rodríguez has exhibited solo and in groups in galleries in Europe, Mexico and the United States. Several institutions have collected his work including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Laguna Art Museum, Founders Gallery at the University of San Diego, the San Diego Museum of Art, the UCLA Special Collection (Books), the San Francisco Mexican Museum, and the Chicago Mexican Museum.
Dave Lefner – The main goal of my work is about preservation and documentation. As a native-born Angeleno, I’ve always had a love for the city around me. My work reflects a nostalgia for its aging, but unique storefronts, signage, and architecture from all Los Angeles areas, ranging from the Valley to my current home of Downtown L.A. For me, the urban landscape, complete with its burnt-out neon, faded, peeling advertisements and movie posters, and possibly, even the occasional graffiti piece, serve as the perfect inspiration for my detailed, limited-edition linocut prints.
The beauty of this metropolis is everywhere around us, but, unfortunately, much of its historical significance is disappearing rapidly. As I look back on the last ten years of my art, I realize that most of my images no longer exist as actual signage, buildings, or facades. The face of my muse changes too quickly I feel. In documenting iconic images, such as the Palace Theatre in downtown, or maybe a less noticeable motel along Sunset Boulevard, my block prints create a bridge between the past and the future. Even in my chosen medium, reduction linocuts, I’m hoping to preserve a dying art form. Because of the immediacy of today’s world, the labor-intensive, process-oriented technique of block printing is being lost and forgotten in the face of a digital age. But for me, the beautiful mystery of this process, as the piece slowly reveals itself with each new color, is worth preserving as much as my subject matter, my city- a ciudad of angels. Lefner has exhibited at Image Art Gallery LA, Black Market Gallery LA, Upper Playground SF, Low, Balazo, Ampersand, Stay Gold Gallery NYC, and in Paris, France.
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